Without bees UK may face £1.8bn bill to hand-pollinate crops
It would cost £1.8bn a year to hand-pollinate UK crops without bees, green campaigners claimed today as they launched a scheme to save the insects.
Friends of the Earth said that in recent years, Britain had lost half the honey bees kept in managed hives, wild honey bees were nearly extinct and solitary bees were declining in more than half the UK landscapes where they had been studied.
Some bumblebee species have been lost from the UK altogether.
Hand-pollination is already being used in some parts of the world, such as in China's Hanyuan county, where pear trees have to be pollinated by humans as native bee populations have been wiped out by loss of habitat and intensive agriculture.
But if the UK cannot rely on bees for pollinating fruit and vegetables, it would cost the country £1.8bn, according to research by the University of Reading.
Friends of the Earth is launching its Bee Cause campaign today to help bees.